As the 2012 presidential election nears, the nation's focus turns to the major issues facing our citizens. The 10 issues highlighted here by ADVANCE are some of the most controversial and heated topics in the country. From employment and the economy to healthcare, taxes, immigration, and more, we offer you a look into Barack Obama's current policies and Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's plans if elected.
Election Day is Nov. 6. View a pdf "Who Should You Vote For?" that compares the candidates' positions here.
In the current economic downturn, many Americans are putting the majority of their voting weight on the candidates' plans to create more jobs and bolster the economy. For healthcare workers, there is a projected surge in available job opportunities. If President Obama is re-elected, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will provide coverage to 34 million newly insured Americans beginning in 2014.1 The aging baby boomer population also will strain the current number of healthcare workers, requiring a new influx of clinicians to care for the insured and elderly.
The Wall Street Journal reported that in the next 15 years, the U.S. could face a shortage of 150,000 primary care physicians.2 For some Americans, there is no such projected increase in positions. Both candidates promise to increase employment if elected in November.
In 2008, President Obama instated the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), cutting taxes for small businesses and 95 percent of working families.3 ARRA added emergency funding to support 300,000 educator jobs, 4,600 law enforcement positions, and investments in the clean energy sector that supported 224,500 jobs through 2010.
President Obama plans to continue to invest in manufacturing, rescuing the auto industry, supporting small business, reforming Wall Street, and doubling our nation's exports.3 Through May 2012, the economy has added 4.4 million private sector jobs over 28 consecutive months of job growth.
If elected, Mitt Romney plans to, "rebuild the foundations of the American economy on the principles of free enterprise, hard work, and innovation."4 If elected, Romney notes he will use his skills attained in the business sector to seek reductions in taxes, spending, regulation and government programs. He plans to increase trade, energy production, human capital, and labor flexibility while replenishing power to the states.
A Washington Post article reported that 50,000 jobs were created in the state of Massachusetts under Romney's tenure as governor, a 1.5 percent growth rate for the state. Additionally, the level of unemployment and underemployment in Massachusetts decreased from 241,000 to 223,000, a 7.5 percent drop, while Romney was in office.5
Largely debated across the country, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has a major impact on the healthcare of Americans. Passed in 2010 and deemed legal by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, the act provides universal healthcare to all Americans, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, wellness, or geographic location. As a result of the legislation, 34 million currently underinsured or uninsured citizens will be eligible to receive insurance at a lower cost than is now available.
Under President Obama, the legislation will remain as is, boasting a rebate of $1.4 billion to 9 million customers and a $127 billion deficit reduction by 2021.3 Though hotly contested by many, the Obama administration considers the passage of the PPACA to be one of the major accomplishments of the presidency.
If Romney is elected, he plans to, "issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all 50 states."4 Romney has spoken out against a "government takeover" of healthcare and promises to give power to the states to create individual healthcare reform policies, encourage individual purchase of insurance, and limit federal standards on private insurance and Medicaid.4
3. Women's Rights
Under the PPACA, President Obama has made birth control more affordable. On Aug. 1, insurance plans were required to fully cover birth control without co-pays or deductibles as part of women's preventative care. The mandate is projected to save women who use birth control $18,000 over a lifetime. Obama also supports the right to abortion. As part of the PPACA legislation, Obama has guaranteed that health insurance premiums will be the same price for men and women - ending a common insurance practice of charging women more.3
Romney is vocal and adamantly pro-life. He believes the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision disallowing state and federal restrictions on abortion should be overturned, empowering states to determine their own abortion laws, rather than being dictated by judicial mandate. He also supports the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bans the use of federal funds for abortions.4 If elected, Romney plans to cease federal funding to Planned Parenthood and promises to nominate judges who "know the difference between personal opinion and the law."4